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Melanie Kirkpatrick Education. (2012) 'Escape From North Korea The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad.'

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North Korea 57, China 18, Us 12, United States 9, Melanie 7, South Korea 7, America 7, Melanie Kirkpatrick 6, North Koreans 6, Korea 4, Kim Jong-il 4, Kim Jong-un 2, Adrienne 2, Bertrand 1, Ken 1, Jack 1, George Diddy Bush 1, Joseph Kim 1, Depositten 1, Adrianne 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Melanie Kirkpatrick  Education.  (2012) 'Escape From  
   North Korea The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad.'  

    October 7, 2012
    5:45 - 7:00am EDT  

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adrienne. and after they speak we'll open the room up to questions. melanie kirkpatrick, as many of you know, is a senior fellow along with her husband at the hudson institute, jack, at the hudson institute. before that melanie was for many years a leading editorial page writer at the "the wall street journal" editorial board. she wrote editorial and articles ranging on all subject from domestic do foreign policy. but in her role in deputy editor of the "the wall street journal," editorial page, she had keen focus on foreign policy and in particular really took to the issue of north korea human rights. like really no one else in the american media has taken to it. earlier in her career, she spent about ten years in asia working for the "the wall street journal" asia, in how hong kong
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and before that she had actually had a another gig she lived and working in tokyo, i believe. melanie received her bachelors degree from princeton university and the master's degree from the university of toronto. the book that melanie kirkpatrick has written is absolutely rivetting. it really reads more like a nelson or tom clan sei thriller than it does the work of non-fiction. she tell us an incredibly powerful story about the human right and human tragedy. the tragedy that is modern north korea. she tell us the story through the eyes of many of the participates in the drama. the refugee, one of whom joseph kim is here with us today. one of only about 175 north korea refugees that made it to the united states in safety. she tells the story through the
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eyes of the workers on the underground railroad largely people involved in christian relief organizations both here in the united states and in northeastern china who work and at great risk to their own lives trying to open up a channel for north creern refugees to escape. north korea, as you know, is probably the most repressive regime in the world at this stage. it is a place where millions of north korea citizens have literally been starved by an intelligencal government policy over the last ten to fifteen years. it's a place that houses and has housed for well over a decade of serious of -- concentration camps where political prisoners are tortured, sometimes executed for crimes no more serious than listening to a foreign radio
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broadcast. , reading a bible or disrespecting a picture of the dear leader. it's really a chilling book and it's a book that should be must read for anyone who cares about human rights or who cares about the political environment and the foreign policy concerns that relate to north korea. as a general rule, u.s. north korea policy follows a very similar and repetitive pattern. the provocations by the regime, missile launches, underground nuclear test or the occasional thinking of south korean boat. they are followed by threats of sanction by the international community. a lot of hand wringing. as with the child, the province of better behavior whereupon the international community comes back and provides more aid to the regime. in many respects continuing to
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prop up the regime. and of course, the aid that is received almost never reaches the people for whom it is delawares end. it is sei phoned off by the military. sold on the black market for hard current sei. this races several questions. i want to plant a few seeds we can come back to. four particular areas i think are worth discussing and thinking about. one is the effect, if any, of sanctions monetary sanctions on a regime like this? well, we all remember what happened about six or seven years ago when the united states froze 25 million of north korean assets in the asia issue. an enormous impact encode. it was largely as a result of that in north korea made some --
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china often hands back refugee to north korea where said to be tortured and sometimes executedded in the political cons treens camps. obviously we know without china turning a blind aid, much of the great work of the underground railroad couldn't take place. that's a puzzle and question. the role of aids of regime when we know so much of is going to be siphoned off raises other interesting moral and political questions. the overall united states policy objective at least the stated policy object everyive over the last decade it appears that all
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of the parties most central to policy making in north korea and those nations that may have more to say about the path of north korea adopt really the beinnocence will to be reunitedded for racial reasons on their own part. these are all the questions that are raised but raised by melanie kirkpatrick in a book that is not fundamentally a policy book. it's a bock about human suffering. it's a book about human tragedy and about heroism. heroism by the relief workers and heroism by the escapes. i want to introduce melanie kirkpatrick. [applause] [applause] >> thank you jay, for the warm introduction and thank you for your help over the years as i have researched this topic. i also want to say thank you to
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hudson institute, ken, and my husband, jack who was my first editor for welcoming me here today. and i'd like to give a special thanks to the guys here with me today to help us talk about my book and talk about the serious issues that jay just jot lined. they have been -- they are both heroes of mine rescuers and rescued. it's wonderful they were able to join us. i would like to thank since this is of one of the first events i have been doing since the book came out. i would like to thank my agents. who are here today and were marvelous in finding the book a terrific home with counter books. i thank encounter books for publishing the book and let me give my special thanks to my
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editor molly powell. inch the exact moment when i became aware of the suffering north korea people. the near was 1981 or 1992 and i was living in the how hong kong i was working for the asian "the wall street journal." i was the editor and one day a submission crossed my desk. it was written by an italian journalist who was living in [inaudible] he had secured a very rare visa and had written an article for his public indication about it and sent a translation to me hoping that the wall street jowrnt would publish it. we did. and i was below away by it. especially the description of who was the leader of north korea. it was like reading a chapter
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from 1984, george or well's vision had come to life a few years earlier as the democratic people's republican of korea. i also as the years went by, i couldn't get the closing line of the italian journalist's article out of my head. it read, when i got off the plane, i kissed the ground happy to be back in a free country. a free country? china in 1981? i have been there. i knew china wasn't free. was it really possible there could be a place that was north korea could be worse? thirty years later, we know the answer to that question. north korea is the world's most repressive state. the people are the slaves of the kim family regime which controls every aspect of their love -- lives even whether they are get to eat. religion is banned, there is no
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rule of law, and perceived political infractions are met with harsh punishment. punishment that it needed out to three generations of person's family. a political offender knows that with he goes to prison, his parents and his children will probably go with him. there are probably about 200,000 north koreans today, and more than a million perhaps as high as 2 million have already died there. the reason we know all of this is and much, much more is thanks to the testimonies of north koreans who have escaped. these are the people i write about in my book. this knowledge comes to us despite the best effort of the kim family regime to keep it secret. for more than fifty years, ever since the end of the korean war,
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they have within saled off from the world's eyes. the kim family regime pursued an eyelationist policy and mains an iron grip on information. access to which is very strictly controlled. to give just one example, every radio must be registered with the government. and it's dial must be fixed to the government run radio station. to enforce this rule, security police equipped with scanners cruise neighbors trying to identify house hold where residences have tinkered with the radios and tuning in to foreign radio broadcast. survey of north korea hiding in china show that a high percentage of them listen to foreign radio broadcast in north korea in defiance of the rule. and the motivation to leave was in fact part influenced by what they heard on the foreign radio broadcasts.
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people are hungry for more information about the outside world. north koreas who escape must first go china. they can't go south to south korea, strange they seem because the -- that runs along the 38 parallel is despite the name is the most militarized border in the world. it's imble impossible to get across unless you are a soldier who has been shown the safe route. and only a few people make it out of north korea by going across the dmz. instead they go china. and in china the north korea usually find he has exchanged one circle of hell for another. china's policy is to track down the north koreas in that country, arrest them, and send them back to north korea they face imprisonment or worse for the so-called crime of leaving their country.
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this policy, this chinese policy is both immoral and it's -- obligations under international treaties it is signed. nevertheless, some of the north koreas who are hiding in china decide to risk a second escape. out of china to south korea, no one can accomplish this feat on his own. some people can get out of north korea on their own and the hand of the rescues rarely reaches to north korea i.t. if somebodies wants to get out of china. they need help. the distances are too great and the challenges are too high for a north korea to do it on his own. this is where the new journeyed ground railroad comes in. like the original, underground railroad in the precivil war american south. the new underground railroad is a networking of safe houses. the operators are both human
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traffickers who are in it for the money and christians whose religious beliefs impel to help the north korean brothers and sisters. thankses to the underground railroad which has been operated for about twelve years increasing number of north koreas are reaching safety in the south and few other countries. the explosion in the number of north koreas who have depositten out in recent years is very striking. keep track of the north koreas who reach south korea and let me share with you just a couple of of the numbers. in 1990, only nine north creerns were able to reach south korea. last year 2,757 north koreans reached safety in the south. so, the people who get out now have formed a large -- there are
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a enough of them. they are educating us about the truth of life in north korea. and there have, several books published about life in north korea, and we now have a much better picture what the truth of the existence is there. but the north korea refugees are performing a second equally important function. arguably even more important. they are helping to open up their own information starved homeland. just as the world now knows about north korea. north koreans know far more about the world. this too is thanks to the earths of yort koreas who have escaped. how do they do that? think a minute. any immigrant who goes to a new country, what's the first thing they want to do? he wants to let his family back home know he's okay. and them about his new life. but for north koreas who wants to the do that it's next to
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impossible up. you can't make a phone call to north korea. you can't an e-mail or text message or facebook. you can't even mail a letter. so the exiles have created a black market in information. they hire chinese couriers to cross the border and deliver mess ages or sometimes they deliver chinese cell phones to tell the relative to go to an area near the border on a certain day and hour turn on the phone and receive a phone call from the relative who has escaped to a different country. in south korea, north korea exiles have formed organizations whose purpose is to get information in to north korea to give just one example, there are four radio stations one by run north exiles that broadcast daily to north korea.
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the mantra of the kim family regime it is the greatest, most process prosperous nation on the world's seater being exposed for the lie it is. north korea's young new dictator kim who took office in september after his father dies. he understands the threat of information poses to the rue. one of his first acts after succeeding his father was to issue the shoot to kill order to guards along the border. anybody observed fleeing across the river to china was to be stopped, he commanded. this were reports he's trying to stop the information flow in to north korea by forcibly relocating the families of north koreas who have escaped. and he does -- the reports say that he's moving some of the them to the interior of the
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country where they'll be out of reach at chinese courier or the dhiens cell phones won't operate. let me close with a quote from north korea boy who escaped to china when he was 13 years old. i refer to joseph, and i quote owe receive and tell his story in my book. a couple of years ago when i was beginning to do the research on the book, i heard him give a moving address to liberty in north korea. the organization that adrianne founded, which help joseph escape from china. joseph told the people at liberty of north korea, he told them what you are doing changed my life and it will vently change north korea. i firmly believe in that
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statement. today thanks to the information obtained from north korea's who have escaped, it's no longer possible for anyone to plead ignorance about the suffering of the north korean people or the dead duration of the total began regime they suffer under or argue things really aren't that bad in that country. a free north korea is not an impossible goal with the help of the north korean people themselves both who have escaped and those still in north korea it could happen. thank you very much. [applause] [applause] >> thank you, mel knee. the story you just told about the use of radios reminds me of the story that i was told by a north korean refugee and escapee in south korea when he told me
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about his tremendous vail and how he ended up in up one of the political prison camps when he was able to escape. he told me that his family had been given a clanst destine video tape of a south korean soap opera. they were watching it at home one night. all of a sudden all the power in their town, not a very big town, a town nevertheless was killed because the north korea secure city police had come in to the town and decided the best way to identify who was violating the law on watching south korea television would be to kill all the power. they came to the family's home, they took hammers and hacked up the vcr they had. pulled out the tape which was frozen saw that was a south creern soap opera and took the entire family in to a prison
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camp. one member of that family, i believe, escaped. to give a little bit of personal testimony here, is our next speaker. ..
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>> four years he had effectively been on his some from the age of 12 after his father starve to death you lived as what we would call the one during the street urchin. when asked his motivation from fleeing north korea he simply replied i was hungry. like so many other refugees from north korea risking his
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life across the river into china there he was stopped by a good samaritan and he was fortunate it was not a chinese official sending him across the border. they said you can get help. godown the road a little bit and in the next village you will find a church. his response was, what it is a church? josip hotel us about his story then i will ask adrian one of the most important human rights organizations heroically may 2006 she helped to arrange a side of for the first bertrand refugee to be granted
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refugee status in the united states. then to other link field workers and six north korea refugees were taken into custody in beijing them placed in prison after an interrogation. they pleaded with united states officials to help them to grant review the status and surely not one of our finest moments they met to with the deaf ears. eventually to the attention that melanie and other journalists gave to the nine -- situation, that the united states intervened
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with pressure and they were released after 10 days and then the sixth north korea and were granted safe passage to south korea. a chilling story. i think both were in the same place at the same time kept one for their own protection but i don't believe they met to. joseph alaska you to speak first. >> good afternoon. my adviser advised me to take speech class but lafayette chose it -- class instead.
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[laughter] i like to address melanie kirkpatrick thank you for interest of north korea human-rights. because of your interest i believe we will make a difference. thank you so much. my name is joseph i was born and raised in north korea indelibly 16. i was loved and cared for first because i was the only son and the august. but that luxury was not reserved forever. a father died of starvation when i was 13. my sister went to china for
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many but never returned. a huge transition to grow up overnight. a child to survivor. i had to beg for food and i lived like an animal. my daily life was very hard. i would find bread from the trash. [inaudible] politics and freedom was not relevant. after two years waiting for my sister to return i decided to leave north
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korea. it was risky. it was still my country and the place that i grew up with memories. where i played with my friends. my escape was very successful. i am thankful god protected me at that time. i encountered lead to at the time. because of their hard work i could come to america successfully. my life has been changed its perspective of the world has changed after america. i do not start any war and live like a human being. i have dreams and hopes.
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my life in america is close to have been. by a dream one day all north koreans could experience the life i have not. a major aim for the intangible goal. [inaudible] when i was 12 years my sister and i went to the mountains. my father could not go he stayed home because he was weak from malnutrition and. we left at 5:00 a.m. and returned avid night. by the time we finished collecting what it was midnight.
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we were exhausted and was afraid we could not make it home. then i saw my father walking toward us. because he would lead us it seemed faster and shorter on the way home. if the answer is you are too weak to do anything. no. but he was with us this journey was shortened. for north korea human-rights you don't have to be strong or special. it is okay.
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[inaudible] but please do what you can do. please pray for them. if you can cry, cry for them. but don't ever forget to my friends. even at this moment they are waiting for help. this 84 north korea will be used as a bridge to connect to tranten to bring my friends the freedom of the land. thank you for a listen to my story. [applause] >> when i met joseph 10 tie
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nine years ago he did not speak one word of english. this is extremely impressive. i don't think he needed that speech class as badly as he thinks he did. when he had gotten to the united states i purchased some books for him and i thought he would like to have some history books he asked me for shakespeare which is very strange because he would have no reason by he heard of it before he left north korea and in the next day i asked him if you read the book. he said he has to read it three times to fully digest it. that speaks to his nature and intellect.
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when speaking about north korea by eight run out of adjectives to describe how bad things are. another torture story. atrocity. only half a million times. it is easy to write off bad things because we assume that they have been over there. also the challenge is that things are so bad that it sounds stake. ridiculous or unfathomable. but it is everything the panel list has talked about and more but even tubal point* the human-rights violations we would be here for a worse. but try to articulate the
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circumstances i will point* out a few things to have the framework. melanie's book does a good job of the underground railroad and the rest of the take it is a very real situation but when i first met joseph he was very young we may wonder if he was fully aware of the decision he was making to leave but if you leave the shelter regardless you're well aware you could be caught on the way tortured or killed. to go to that much risk whatever your escaping from has to be extraordinarily bad far worse than what you are facing. it is that bad about 1 million starve to death when they could feed there
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own people and did not. they treat their people not to facilitate the wellbeing of its people but two were 3,000 the the and in particular one family with the last name can. right now most on starvation bubble. the world food program issues a call that they need emergency aid to iran will spend $4 billion a nuclear test with the people are starving. but then you get out to the massive human rights violations if they listen to the pop song all are put out a couple of water and others that have been tortured because the relative escape to get food and when i was
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with chinese hospitality then head of the president -- prison was ethnically e korean. we talked quite a bit. he shared they get north korea installed the time in a prison. monday or thursday they are sent back. that is the day. young boys would beg him and call him older brother can you cut my hair? because north korea has a role. if it is in a different style that means you have been at of the country for a long period. if there is cut they have a
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shot. everybody involved knows what is happening. there is no illusion but we cannot solve it or think it is inevitable or we have no right to do anything about it. north korea is not just an issue for a human-rights but almost a black hole of modern civilization it is a huge problem proliferation commented bn -- wmd, counterfeiting, s tate-sponsored terrorism, it is astonishing it is not a huge issue in general but a nuclear arms state during the election year. that we keep pushing under the rug there will be a day
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when north korea is free. it will come within those will realize there could have been more that we could have done in the is where were some anticipated we have overwhelming evidence that anybody could access. there was nothing during the holocaust many people set would have acted differently but today everybody watching this you can find concentration camps. joseph showed me the route he took every day. the fact that he can do that means we have overwhelming evidence of what is happening. but when you look bacteria
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has accomplished it can do extraordinary things going for the most impoverished country to the tenth largest in 60 years. with a korean-americans have accomplished. it never got that freedom the first half of the 20th century is old news but for north korea they are still stock. and we have a special responsibility when joseph first came in return can to workers restore. you don't think about this. just to buy him a snack. i don't know if he remembers but his jaw just dropped. yogurt, serial it is amazing how much and we have. he had his first strawberry
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to explain it and watch him eat it was an amazing experience. we took into this two. i had difficulty to explain what a dinosaur is. there was no context. take that level of education across the board you can imagine a nation and that is crippled with the generations that are malnourished children are brain damaged with no proper food the first five years. not just a problem for human-rights but for everybody. and people have a special ability to wait and whether now later.
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i will share chains impact of if prior perspective we had regular feedback from our forces of the country they were working extremely effectively at some point* it will have a harder soft landing how many people will have to die? there is no question at all it will be the issue. those of us that have the privilege to be born free or live in a free place have responsibility to help those that are not there and they're the closest thing to
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complete slaves even if they make it out they are trapped 70% we have stories of people why your put through their noses to be sent back on moss -- en masse. i would still being custody if melanie did not press on so with that i'd like to transition to questions. i would like to thank melanie kirkpatrick for writing this extraordinary book. [applause] >> thank you both to joseph
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and adrian. if you have a question raised your hand. you can address it to anyone in particular if anyone wants to start? who are the leaders in north korea that has left north korea when have they told you about the nature of the leadership and the potential divisions and what have you gathered from that information? >> a interviewed a number of
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diplomats and officials and one military man the information knowledge is very compartmentalized so it is hard to get a pitcher. the kim family regime while kim jong-il was still live. he was very much and command. there was an inner circle maybe 3,000 people who run the country some of them may have access to the internet to are allowed to travel.
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even then they're not fully trusted. a diplomat said abroad is often required to leave one of his children behind. one child stays. for the purpose to make sure he does not effect. then he knows the price is the life of a child. the big take away is the grip this inner circle has even on those who run the place. >> the highest level of defection and that used to be the personal advisor with
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kim jong-il and he came away, many people really died during the famine close at 2 million people. he passed away but when he defected 70 households, not people were sent to concentration camps. kim jong-il took it very personally. there have been ambassadors with arms trade that have defected and they brought a lot of reformation but deletes is two or 3,000. not to religious or raise but just a group that have been bought and and it is them against everyone else. >> it would be interesting to tell the audience the
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general way how they shared their stories with you. could you elaborate the process that you secured the story? >> one thain feather learned early on is talking about these stories is very difficult. is painful to live the memories. i tried to do it in a slow way verses but out my "wall street journal" skills one
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nds sets of my book and i think is different is said to focus on the people that help them. i turned to them frequently to ask them to help me and because the rescuers would file each than the north koreans were willing to tell their stories as well. i tried to double check famous by interviewing two or more people involved in a similar incident. it was a very long process. although one anecdote i interviewed to women to come to the united states.
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they were in this country four days. i was all prepared with my sets of questions with the theory how best to establish reform. they walked hand and sat down and took command. [laughter] the first thing out of the mouth but the thank president george diddy bush for while they may need to america up. this was a woman got was determined to tell me because she wanted americans to tell her story.
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>> thank-you very much for providing a wonderful opportunity you're now shedding light on the issue. with the best human-rights violation. number of japanese citizens from over 40 years ago the main issue with the dprk
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with the destructive weapons and the strategic issues. one is the regime of kim jong-un dc any changes for the best human-rights situation? >> and with your permission the communication has kept people. [inaudible] and said japanese family kept from the dprk from the
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message a couple of the parents are trying hard to give a message of love and affection to their sons and daughters to the dprk they tried to use every possible way to convey the family message to you have any advice how parents can successfully give that message to children? >> first, i think getting messages to them and is impossible to tell if we will reach them.
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if they are even still live. it was 30 years ago they were kidnapped from japan elsewhere. that said, we know information and gets into north korea more effectively than ever before. especially those who are better off. p'yongyang are receiving information and those along the border with china. bombard the place with as much information as possible. and your first question, i see no evidence that kim jong-un is prepared to change north korea.
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his actions, shoot-to-kill orders suggest he is as determined to keep the people of north korea under his thumb pro recent report says he has of pride there is a picture with mickey mouse. i think this public relations. kim jong-il was good at public relations speaking to the international media up. i doubt this plays at all even if north koreans know kim jong-un has a wife it would make the difference to them. >> as far as the changes i
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the gay are effective western media and policy makers attire taken been how hand beg choice how he now allows peat said. it is no longer not allowed. there are changes happening this his purging that naturally happens. but leon panetta said we don't want to buy the same horse twice. we don't want to see buying into the same to cost the
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lives of the people. >> to pay and his outspoken and very strong comments is the example to be admired. your government has spoken out forcefully of the abuses of the regime and our government could take a lesson from new. >> i work closely with your government japan also have a special envoy for north korea human-rights and reworked closely for number of years. given it is highly unlikely the regime will fall because of the external force it
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does not seem apparent although no one never knows, the the to that supports the regime will dump him and who knows what would emerge? the best chance for change is from within the north korea community itself. the more light that is shed the more likely is to re-emerge a significant number are getting access to information something that did not exist 10 years ago. to the extent the japanese government can facilitate more radio transmissions
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into north korea those that are willing to support who can really shed light from the outside to tell their brothers and sisters what is really happening pro that is where japanese government can take initiative and i applaud both of them. >> can i ask joseph a question? >> when you were living in north korea did you have access to any foreign an informational? what did you know, about america? >>
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[inaudible] >> did you hear any foreign radio broadcast or read books? >> not that i remember. for example, when i had to decide it was a hard decision. i had no other information about america. my response was very immediate. i said no. she was surprised and said
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he might want to go and fig about. so i tried to research america but i did not understand chinese i did know about it was american and a larger men movie. i just looked tv show for western people. but then main character was "rambo". [laughter] a complete characterization
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of united states. [laughter] he opened the refrigerator and there was wine and that was my first exposure to western culture. a good thing that i found. [inaudible] he then did north korea there is a lot of dishes. that was my first exposure. >> thank you. we have time for one final question.
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>> in 2002 with connection of -- . [inaudible] when i saw the east side of korea was almost untouched and really different from p'yongyang that is also very behind the more of a showcase outside for the international people. i heard from another source as of now there is an increase of self and users
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which i did not expect in 2002 and with the increased number of self fund and the internet users and probably short 10 to north korea. >> the increase is not much of an issue because you need a passport and the need permission to go next door. the cellphone issue is intriguing because eighth they get would be counter intuitive.
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north korea has signed a deal that they probably get better service then we get to in manhattan. [laughter] they will hit 1 million subscribers soon. i a.m. aware of the technical make and it is built in the way to ensure they are in control and it is better to allow them to have so funds and monitor that not be aware at all. they cannot reach outside the country. they would rather make money and control citizens even more and facilitate the regime quickly. is not necessarily a tool for a subversive activity if
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the mechanism is exploitable it could be turned against them. >> by 12 thain the hudson institute and 10 for organizing the event also our were presenters josip you are a hero and inspiration to all of us. [applause] and adrienne is a front-line freedom fighter pursuit of freedom of the second two quenching once appetite hearing the stories that melanie has written about
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how fortunate we are to live and with so much freedom but it comes with a responsibility. melanie has outlined our responsibility and the cause for human rights. when i was working for president bush he gave me a book the he had just read col the aquarium's of p'yongyang. i hope president obama gives this book to everyone in his staff certainly everyone involved with asia policy. for policymakers and important book to understand the dimensions of the tragedy. thank you for coming today
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>> she showed that throughout come and when i talk to one of the actresses who portrayed her, she said since i was her age when i played the part, i think which is the confidence of youth, as someone my age i would be very scared again on a ski trail and go down for the first time. but joan was seen not to be afraid of anything. i think she thought she was